Winter 2013: Sacred Dialogue

Interpreting and Embodying Sacred Texts Across Traditions

In the winter quarter, the 2012-2013 Bannan Institute will engage in an extended process of storytelling.  Lectures and events will explore the public significance of sacred texts from diverse contexts and traditions, including the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Scriptures, the Qur'an, the Bhagavata Purana, various Buddhist sutras, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This winter series will also highlight the multiple ways in which sacred texts make meaning in the public sphere, through narrative, critical analysis, illuminations, communal and personal interpretation, electronic media, proclamation, art, and interreligious engagement.

Sacred Pixels I

Engaging Digital Spirituality

by Heidi Campbell & Lisa Webster |

Contemporary culture has become increasingly digitally integrated enabling us to approach almost every aspect of our lives, including religion and spirituality, as part of a widely distributed digital crowd. Christian believers gather regularly to pray on the hugely popular Jesus Daily Facebook page. In the recently launched Salamworld, Muslims come together in a global, multi-lingual social networking site shaped by Islamic values. And, in popular online social games as diverse as Flower and World of Warcraft, millions of gamers around the world develop religiously infused narratives that express and shape their spiritualities.

In the public learning series Sacred Pixels: Exploring Sacred Text in Digitally Integrated Culture, we explore how digitally integrated spiritual practices form new sacred texts and how they engage the resources of traditional religions in local and remote conversations with a diverse community of scholars, journalists, and religious leaders from across the country brought together as only new media technologies could make possible.

The first event in the Sacred Pixels series will consider the following questions: What does religious and spiritual practice look like in social media networks and other digital spaces? How might digital practice be changing what we believe and how we practice our faith? Does the religious and spiritual information we share in social media communities form new “sacred texts”?


Heidi Campbell is Associate Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University where she teaches in Telecommunications and Media Studies. Since 1997 she has studied religion and the internet and what impact new media technologies are having on religious communities. She has written on a variety of topics including religion online, new media ethics, technology and theology and religious community's response to mass media. Her work has appeared variety of books and journals on themes related to religion and media including New Media and Society, Journal of Media and Religion, Journal of Contemporary Religion, the book Religion Online (Dawson & Cowan, Routledge 2004) and she is author of Exploring Religious Community Online (Peter Lang, 2005) and (Texas A&M University), author of When Religion Meets New Media: Exploring the Intersection between New Media, Religion & Digital Culture (Routledge, 2010).

Lisa Webster, senior editor, Religion Dispatches, is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California; her M.A. is in comparative literature from Columbia University. Her work, focusing on religious writing, brings a literary approach to religious studies. She has worked in web and magazine publishing, most recently as managing editor at Tricycle: the Buddhist Review.

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